Need-Blind Admissions is Exactly What It Says It really is (Part Two)

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CoCo 130820 0203 Last Thursday, Bev Taylor authored an article on Huffington Post, claiming “Need Blind Admissions Is a Rest. ” Its publication ignited the flurry of responses among university admissions professionals both publicly and privately. On Thursday, we submitted part one of a response to her article, which offered a rebuttal to some of her proscribed actions and clarified some of the terms surrounding “need” in admissions and financial aid. These days, we continue with part 2, which challenges Taylor’s central claim that need blind admissions just does not make logical sense.

Good use of data vs . “logic”

Enrollment management methods at colleges and universities are based on historical tendencies. For example , if I want to yield the class of 1, 600 students this year and I know that an average of 40 percent of students have accepted our offer of admission over the last five years, I will admit 4, 1000 students. Sometimes this leads to over-enrolling the class and a scramble to find additional beds on campus, and other moments it leads to under-enrolling a class and use of the waitlist. The suppose is imperfect, but it’s since close to accurate as colleges could be, and it often turns out to be a pretty good guideline.

Colleges utilize the same historical trends to continuously reassess their financial aid policies. Universities that are need aware use traditional trends to determine how much money they can allocate in financial aid each year and either what they estimate the average financial aid package will be or how many students from each income level they can account. This allows them to admit only sufficient students at the lower income levels to keep them within their budget for financial aid. Universities that are need blind have to glance at the financial reality of remaining need blind year after year. So long as it continues to be financially feasible for the school to remain need blind and meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need, they will keep that policy. If not, they will either become need aware or get rid of their policy of meeting full financial need.

Taylor’s article asserts that need-blind admissions policies are fiction simply because she is unaware of the ways in which need-blind schools use historical data to protect by themselves from precisely the scenario she describes: an instance in which every admitted student has extensive financial need. Yet she also misses a really essential point when she says that need-blind admissions “defy logic. ” She writes, “If MIT, a good institution that is ‘need blind’ as well as one that ‘meets the full demonstrated need’ for both domestic and worldwide applicants, admitted a class by which every single applicant needed financial aid, that they had be in big trouble. ” Indeed, MIT would be financially stretched when they admitted a class in which every single applicant needs financial aid. But to expect that to ever happen will be nothing other than pure nonsense.

Taylor makes a problematic assumption in her argument, namely that students from across the socioeconomic spectrum have a roughly equivalent chance of getting admission to elite institutions. Even though it’s true that students along with roughly the same academic and extracurricular profile have an equivalent chance of being admitted to a given elite institution, it is also true that students along with elite academic and extracurricular single profiles disproportionately come from family members with the highest incomes . That’s because being wealthy confers excellent educational advantages: elite test preparation and tutoring, private schools, after school opportunities, and even independent admissions advisors, among other factors.

Round the country, college enrollment among low-income students continues to path enrollment among wealthier groups , and when you look at elite institutions, you’re likely to find an even starker contrast. It’s much more common to get a high-income student to take 10 APs and score a perfect 2400 over the SAT than it is for a low-income student to achieve the same record, due to his or her additional educational advantages. This is actually the reality regardless of a school’s plan towards need-blind admissions, which is why just a few alma maters, Reed College (need aware with a 49 percent confess rate) and Stanford University (need blind with a 6 percent confess rate), each awarded need-based financial aid to the roughly the same percentage of students—about half of undergraduates—last year.

Finding your edge

Look, I’m not quarrelling that the application process is simple, or even easy, or stress-free. There are parts of great confusion for students and parents, and admissions offices ought to be doing more to alleviate the stress of that confusion. I don’t begrudge students who want to find an extra edge in gaining entry to competitive universites and colleges, but I want them to do it in manners that are informed and sensible: by creating a balanced list both in conditions of likelihood of admission and expected financial aid award; by writing and revising quality essays with the help of parents and teachers and counselors; and by making the right curricular choices each and every turn and receiving top marks on the way. If you’re confused about the steps you ought to take, you should reach out to your high school counselor or to a college admissions counselor at one of your colleges appealing. Remember, these educators are right here to help you find your place in university, and all you need to do is ask for help.

Ian Fisher is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions specialists . Ian received his master’s in policy, organization, and leadership studies from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining University Coach, Ian worked as a mature admissions officer at Reed University.

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